My intuition on why Hollywood movies use a particular hue of blue for the background screen is because this pigment is not common in the real world. So a computer program would have an easy time replacing the blue background with computer generated graphics.

blue screen

I would like to use this particular blue color in a related fashion. In my Adobe Flash SWF, I would like set the stage background to this blue hue. A separate program will cut out the blue and replace it with a scenic background.

What is the exact hex value of the color used in blue screens on movie sets? Or if you know other pigments not common in the physical world, then feel free to share.

  • Couldn't you just paste this photo into your graphics program and use the eyedropper to get the hex value? Aug 5 '11 at 20:52
  • 1
    No I can't. A) Each camera will distort colors differently. B) I don't know what, if any, post-processing was applied to that photo.
    – JoJo
    Aug 6 '11 at 22:27
  • Just to point out that while blue may be an uncommon as a pigment, skies are very commonly at least partly blue.
    – e100
    Aug 9 '11 at 9:44
  • I'm not sure anyone will be able to provide you with an exact hexadecimal colour value, because bluescreens aren't digital. Also, the thing JoJo says is good to keep in mind.
    – paddotk
    Jun 19 '12 at 19:21
  • Besides that, you can't exactly compare a real-life colour with a digital one, because devices simply have their own methods to generate and display colours. Non-digitally, light has a major influence on how a colour looks. Sunlight will make something look slightly different by colour than electrical lights will. Secondly, green screens are also commonly used for the same purposes, and even moreso, with the modern refined editing software, these screens can be pretty much every colour. That was a lot harder a few decades ago. Green screens are useful when there are jeans onscreen etc.
    – paddotk
    Jun 19 '12 at 19:24

Chroma Keying (or Color Keying) comes from way back in the days of film, when it was originally called Blue Screen. It does not depend on an unusual pigment. You could, in theory, use almost any saturated color, the main point being that you're dealing with a very limited color range that can be easily differentiated from the foreground subject. A green cube could be shot on a shocking pink background and would key perfectly well in Photoshop.

What makes chroma key most workable is to use a primary light color. Since red is the dominant skin tone, that leaves blue and green as the useful chroma key colors.

There's a good article in the subject on Wikipedia that gives historical background and plenty of information. (Note in particular the section headed "Clothing", which gives a great example of the kind of practical problem that can come up, and how it's addressed.

There's no EXACT hex value, because shadows and lighting create a range of values. When keying, you try to minimize those, but they are almost always there. Keying plug-ins and apps work with those ranges and have adjustment sliders specifically to handle them. The best plug-ins also take care of color spill (where a bit of green is reflected at the edges of the face or clothing, for example).

If you take a blue or green screen shot like your example and look at the individual channels in Photoshop, it will be immediately clear why an RGB primary is what works best for keying.


Well, this used to be called "greenscreening," since they used a virulent neon green instead of the Electric Kool-Aid Blue, and that looks like 100% in RGB (#00ff00).

Other than that, I'd get as many of those cool photos as I could, eyedropper the blue background, and take an average.

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